2011 Moments: #2 A record-breaking season

102 wins.

Just reading it summarizes the dominance of the Phillies 2011 regular season. But despite breaking a franchise record that stood for over four years, the season ended in disappointment.

Many questions were raised towards the end of the season and soon following the Phillies elimination in the Game 5 of the NLDS to the eventual champion Cardinals. Is this the greatest Phillies team of all time, even without a championship? Is this the most disappointing Phillies season to date?

It’s the second straight season the Phillies boasted the best record in all of baseball (won 97 games in 2010). It was also the second straight season the Phillies failed to win the National League pennant after back-to-back trips in 2008 and 2009 that ended in one World Series title.

In fact, since winning in 2008, the Phillies have failed to match or exceed the previous season’s feats, leading to those wondering if next season – a season that could be without Ryan Howard for much of the season as well potentially losing some key players – would continue the trend and see the Phils miss the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

But what does this all have to do with winning 102 games?

The Phillies post season struggles are not an indication on how talented of a team they are and instead a reflection on a lack of execution. But this is a celebration of a magical regular season and not how it ended.

You could summarize this 2011 Top 10 moments list with this post. You had game-winning hits during the regular season, key trades that catapulted the Phils to the next level and some other off season acquisitions as well has young players stepping up that made this a magical 102-win season

The Moments

As you’ve seen in the list, the addition of Cliff Lee last December gave the Phillies the best rotation in baseball.

They didn’t disappoint either, especially Lee, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. Moment 10 was Lee’s incredible month of June in which he allowed only one earned run all month while composing a 5-0 record and three complete game shut outs. He nearly matched that feat in August.

Co-aces Hamels and Halladay each enjoyed Cy Young-caliber seasons as well, giving the Phillies rotation the ability to live up to its lofty expectations.

Right away, the Phillies brought excitement to the table when John Mayberry Jr ripped  a game-winning single on Opening Day. His shot was one of many exciting plays, that included Chase Utley’s inside the park home run and Lee’s first two career home runs.

The Honorable Mentions

Not listed in the top 10 were five incredible moments during the season.

There was the obvious fifth straight NL East crown, nominated by our own John Shields.

In April, Placido Polanco ripped a three-run homer against the Milwaukee Brewers that propelled the Phils to a huge win early in the season against a NL favorte.

On July 8, Raul Ibanez hit a walk-off home run against the Atlanta Braves just before the All-Star Break. A month later, the Phils got to Colorado’s Huston Street, and a week later, pulled off the an unbelievable comeback yet again against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The New Guys

We talked about Mayberry’s heroics and contributions to the team already.

But some young arms lead the way for the Phillies rotation and bull pen in the midst of injuries.

Roy Oswalt was banged up much of the season and Joe Blanton was out for nearly all of it. In stepped Vance Worley, who went 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA in his rookie season.

The bull pen wasn’t saved from pain either. Ryan Madson had a DL stint and the Phils lost Jose Contreras early for the year. In stepped lefty Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes to provide some youth and depth in a bull pen that was ever changing.

Will 2012 Be Better?

This question is still up in the air. With Madson and Jimmy Rollins still free agents, Howard’s health status up in the air and a couple of A and B free agents on the Phils radar, who knows what next year will bring.

One thing is certain: there will be more great memories made.


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